SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The winter storm that could bring a foot of snow to some parts of Colorado’s mountains over the weekend is also increasing the risk of avalanches.
The avalanche danger continues to grow as recent spring snow makes conditions ripe for snow slides in the back country.
The increased risk isn’t deterring back country skiers and boarders from taking advantage of the fresh powder.
“Been getting hit with these weekend snowstorms, getting these good power days,” said back country skier Grant Laduc.
Laduc and his friends have been taking turns skiing fresh powder at nearly 12,000 feet on top of Loveland pass.
“It’s really weird, unusual, last year shut off so quickly but this year it is still here,” said Laduc.
While fresh powder is a big draw for back country skiers and boarders, what lies beneath that new show can be dangerous.
“We had people caught as recently as this week. This year has a different flavor, we had long dry spells interrupted by fairly large storms that dumped on us,” Deputy Director Colorado Avalanche Information Center Brian Lazar.
Lazar said recent weather patterns have created a complex and dangerous avalanche problem in parts of the high country. Strong winds and sun have created hard slabs of snow on the top. When heavy, wet spring snow falls on top of that, the base is unstable and can give way, creating snow slides.
“Prone to weak layers which then, when buried, produce avalanches,” said Lazar.
Avalanche experts warn those who venture into the back country to be prepared and have the proper equipment.
This year in Colorado, three people have died in avalanches. The 10-year average is six per year. Avalanche experts hope to keep this year’s number to where it is now.